Protein is arguably the most important of the three food groups. In fact, the word protein comes from the Greek word for first or primary – proteus. It doesn’t matter if you are a bodybuilder, a runner, or just want to lose weight; you must eat enough protein.
How much is enough? That’s up for debate, but most experts agree that 0.5 to 1.0 grams per pound of body weight is about right. The more active you are, the more protein you need.
While it is entirely possible to get enough protein from food, it’s not always easy. That’s especially true if you are a vegetarian or vegan. Animal foods like meat, fish, and eggs contain a lot of protein, and while plant foods like beans, seeds, and nuts also contain protein, they have less of it.
That’s why a lot of people turn to protein supplements. One scoop of protein powder contains 20-30 grams of protein, which can go a long way to ensuring you have enough protein in your diet. As an added advantage, you can chug down a protein shake almost anywhere and anytime, making them easy to use.
In this article, we look at soy protein vs. hemp protein, so you can choose the right one for your needs.
Soy Protein vs. Hemp Protein
What Is Soy Protein?
Soy protein is made from defatted, washed soybean flakes, which are free from sugars and dietary fiber. They’re then dried, dehydrated, and processed to make a powder.
Soy is a complete protein which means it contains all nine essential amino acids. Your body cannot make these aminos, and they must be present in the diet. Soy protein powder is free from fat, gluten, and lactose, which means it’s compatible with most diets.
It’s usually flavored as plain soy protein powder is not very tasty. Soy protein can have a chalky, gritty texture, so it needs to be thoroughly mixed with water. One ounce of soy protein provides 23 grams of protein and 95 calories, and just two grams of carbs, making it keto-friendly.
As well as being a good source of protein, soy protein powder has several notable benefits:
Helps Build Muscle
Like all types of protein, soy can help you build bigger, stronger muscles when combined with an appropriate workout regimen. Consuming soy protein after exercise may speed up recovery, leading to faster progress.
Soy protein is filling and can boost your metabolism for faster, easier weight loss.
It’s low in carbs, fat, and calories, making it an excellent alternative to higher-calorie foods, such as milk, eggs, and meat.
Better Heart Health
According to studies, soy protein may help lower bad LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides while raising levels of good HDL cholesterol.
Low LDL/Higher HDL levels are linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
While soy protein is an excellent alternative to animal proteins, there are a few disadvantages to consider before adding it to your diet:
Antinutrients are substances that stop your body from absorbing vitamins and minerals.
Soy protein contains phytates, which reduce the availability of iron and zinc. This could lead to a nutritional deficiency if you consume a lot of soy protein.
Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are compounds that disrupt natural hormone levels, and may cause estrogen levels to rise. Elevated estrogen may increase the risk of certain cancers and could cause a decrease in testosterone levels in men.
Most soybeans are genetically modified. If you prefer to avoid GMO crops, you should probably avoid soy protein.
What Is Hemp Protein?
Hemp protein is made by grinding hemp seeds into a fine powder. It has a nutty, earthy taste and is very easy to digest. It contains all nine essential amino acids but may be a little low in lysine, which means it scores lower on most protein quality scales than things like whey.
However, it compares very favorably with all other plant-based protein powders, including soy. 30 grams of hemp protein provides 116 calories, 22 grams of protein, four grams of fat, and less than one gram of carbohydrate.
Most of the fat in hemp seeds is unsaturated. Hemp protein is very unprocessed and is something of a whole food. This lack of processing means that hemp is a very natural and nutritious source of protein.
Hemp protein is very nutritious and has several useful benefits:
Good For Digestive Health
One serving of hemp protein powder contains about 7-8 grams of fiber. Fiber plays an essential part in digestion and offers protection against things like constipation, diverticular disease, and colorectal cancer.
Improved Heart Health
Unlike most plant-based protein sources, hemp is high in heart-friendly unsaturated fats.
The fats in hemp protein can help lower bad and raise good cholesterol levels while reducing inflammation.
High In Nutrients
Hemp seed protein is an excellent source of minerals, including phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, and copper. It’s one of the most nutritious protein sources around.
Hemp is a good source of protein and is packed with beneficial nutrients. However, there are a couple of things to consider before using it:
Hemp protein tastes earthy, nutty, or grassy. These are flavors that many people find hard to tolerate.
You can mask these tastes by adding hemp protein to smoothies and shakes, but it’s less enjoyable when mixed with plain water. Hemp protein is usually sold unflavored.
Hemp protein is easy to digest, but its high fiber content means it can cause bloating and gas.
That’s especially true if you are unused to eating lots of high-fiber foods. Avoid any problems by increasing your hemp protein intake gradually.
According to some research, hemp protein may be unsafe during and after pregnancy. Speak to your doctor before using hemp protein if you are pregnant.
Getting enough protein is not always easy, but not consuming enough could undermine your workouts or interfere with weight loss. Thankfully, protein supplements make getting enough protein a much easier prospect, and there are lots of different types of products to choose from.
Whey protein is the most popular choice, but it’s made from milk and contains lactose, so it’s not suitable for everyone. Soy and hemp protein are good plant-based alternatives, but which one is best?
If you just want a convenient source of plant protein and aren’t too worried about additional health benefits, soy protein is a good choice. It’s cheap, widely available, and it’s also very low in fat, carbs, and calories.
Hemp protein is more nutritious and offers several additional health benefits. However, because it contains more unsaturated fat and fiber, it’s not as high in protein as soy. It also tends to be more expensive.
Ultimately, both soy and whey protein are good protein sources that are ideal for anyone who prefers to avoid lactose or who wants a plant-based protein. They contain all the nine essential amino acids, which makes them complete proteins, and ideal for exercisers and non-exercisers alike.